Spirited souls: Meet Olivia, nine-year-old athlete!

It was a beautiful summer morning when I met up with Olivia, her mom and younger sister Maya on the steps of Concordia University, overlooking the water.

“It’s so pretty here. I feel like I’m on a beach in Florida!” I exclaimed. “But it’s not an ocean, this is a lake!” laughed Olivia and Maya. Ahh, but I can dream, can’t I? Alright, back to the important business of the day. Let’s meet Olivia!

She’s an active and very busy 9 ½ year old, going into the 4th grade. She loves math (I wish I could say the same for myself!) and the color purple. Olivia also has Prader-Willi Syndrome which makes her crave food so intensely that it can be difficult to focus on other tasks. People affected by this syndrome often have difficulties managing their weight, which can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Despite the fact that Olivia has Prader-Willi Syndrome, she is not letting this challenge slow her down. She’s working hard to keep herself healthy and just accomplished a great feat! Running an entire 5K!

To learn more about Prader-Willi Syndrome, find support or donate to help those affected, please visit: http://www.PWSAofWI.org

Take a look at my interview with Olivia:

1. Tell me one thing about yourself that you think makes you unique?

I’m in a Pomeranian dance group and practice the German Backfische dance. During a show, I wear an 8-layer tracht (traditional German costume) with a red skirt and a white shirt. I also wear an apron with a vest.

2. You worked really hard and just ran your first 5K. That’s amazing! How did you train?

I ran 3 days a week. In the beginning, I started running for 2 minutes and then I added 1 minute every time I ran. A 5K is about 3 miles and on race day I ran the 5K in 1 hour and 4 minutes.

3. You also keep yourself healthy and ready to run by eating lots of nutritious foods.  I’ve been told you have a good system for figuring out what foods are good and what are bad. Can you tell me about it?

Every food has a color (This is similar to a stoplight. Green means go! Red means stop!). An example of a green food (ok to eat a lot) is salad. A yellow food (good in smaller amounts) is something like bread and a red food (tiny amounts as a treat) could be M&M cookies.

4. Was it always easy to wake up and run or did you have some days where you just wanted to take a break? What did you do to keep yourself going?

Some days I didn’t want to practice, but my dad would say “Come on! Let’s go!” Then I would go with him.

5. What did your parents say or do after you crossed the finish line?

My mom cried and gave me a big hug. My dad also cried and said, “I’m so proud of you. You did it!”

6. Do you have another goal for yourself right now that you’re working towards?

I want to do the Power Run. It’s a ½ mile run in Green Bay.

7. Ok, one last question. Since this blog is about spiritual wellness, what’s something you do if you’re feeling sad about something and want to feel better?

I have a sip of water and take a deep breath. My dad also always makes me feel better.

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